I think everyone is in agreement on the new Priest album. It’s awesome. It’s a perfect listen and I know it will end up being one of the best rock albums of 2018. Here are 2 reviews of it by 2 of our writers – Joe Becht and Sam Supey. Do you like the album? Let us know in the comments section below. – Mark Strigl
Review 1 of 2 by Joe
Rating 9 out of 10
When first listening to the opening title track to Judas Priest’s newest release Firepower I heard a similarity to the opener from their last album, Redeemer of Souls. Keep in mind, I was a big fan of Redeemer of Souls and the guitar work of Richie Faulkner. I compared the two opening tracks and immediately heard the incredible production upgrade on Firepower. Redeemer of Souls now sounds murky, while Firepower is a crisp punch to the face. The band’s return to Tom Allom mixed with the musical infusion of Andy Sneap creates a beautifully proportioned mix of classic and modern-day Judas Priest.It is remarkable that a band with over 40 years experience released a work of art that stays close to their roots yet sounds fresh.
Firepower is a great album that will grow on you with each listen. The guitar playing is as great as ever and I assume most of it is Richie Faulkner. The title track and “Lightning Strike” are solid songs that lead into the amazing “Evil Never Dies”. It embodies everything that makes Judas Priest great. I must research the subject matter because the lyrics are quite intriguing. There is even a bit of the 90’s Halford sound, which I am a huge a fan of. The next track ‘Never the Heroes” is a another instant classic with its slower paced, heavy grit and melodic lead guitar. “Necromancer” continues the onslaught. It is here where I appreciate Rob Halford’s ability to still bring his vocal brilliance after all of these years. Once again, he is the Metal God. The dual guitar leads are brief and powerful. “Children of the Sun” combines the power of past songs such as “Touch of Evil” but with a vicious beat that sounds like it would be used by a tribe to prepare for battle. “Guardians” is a brief 1 minute ballad featuring piano, which is quite ambitious, once again proving that the band takes chances. It is the perfect lead in to “Rising From Ruins” a pounding anthem with guitars that alternate from heavy to soft. It’s reminiscent of the pre Hell Bent for Leather era. Think “Victim of Changes” mixed with their more recent sound. Here is where I begin to really appreciate the diverse and amazing drum work of Scott Travis. “Flame Thrower” is the perfect follow up. It just kicks ass plain and simple. Already 9 tracks in, many times a listener will lose interest in the output. This is not the case with Firepower. “Spectre” , the 10th track explodes with a very powerful and memorable riff. While “Traitors Gate” displays nuts and bolts heavy metal somewhat in the vein of the last album, “No Surrender” returns with more kick ass riffs that harken back to the Screaming for Vengeance days. The album ends with “Lone Wolf” , a track that borders on Halford’s Fight days and “Sea of Red” , which begins acoustically, sounding a bit like “Here Come the Tears” way back on Sin After Sin. In fact, the song is structured much in the same way. Halford’s voice is a few octaves lower but just as powerful.
That’s correct, Judas Priest delivers 14 strong tracks that end slightly better than they begin. They took every aspect of their long career and created an excellent Judas Priest stew.
Over time, Firepower may reach the plateau of the great Judas Priest classics.
Written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht
Review 2 of 2 by Sam
Rating: 9 out of 10
Hype. We have all heard that word. It has a negative connotation. It is usually preceded by the words “Don’t believe the” or “Does not live up to…”
Well ladies and gentlemen, thanks to Judas Priest, we have our first example of something that does live up to the hype. For over a year we have been reading studio reports of the metal masters being locked up in the studio working with the dream production team of Tom Allom and Andy Sneap. Allom’s credits are legendary including most of Priest’s classic albums and Sneap is responsible for many of the best sounding metal albums of the last decade. Add to that a few quotes from Rob Halford, touting their best album in years. Of course it is. Everyone knows that every new album is an artist’s “best ever”. I was hopeful, if not a little skeptical.
I am happy to report that Halford was correct and that FIREPOWER meets and exceeds all possible expectations. The album begins with the explosive title track and does not let up over the course of its 14 tracks. Don’t be scared of the 14 song tracklist, there is no dead weight here. The album clocks in at 59 minutes and not a second is wasted. Rather than do a track by track review, I will just generally say that there were multiple times that this record caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. Every time I think I have identified my favorite song on the album, I change my mind. Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner have delivered incredible riffs, but more than that, they have taken those riffs and turned them into great songs. That’s what I always loved about Judas Priest. As hard or as fast as they played, they always had memorable songs, and FIREPOWER has them in spades. By my third trip through the record, I was already singing along in the right places. Each time I listen to it, different songs hit me in different ways. It truly is a journey. Rob Halford’s vocal work is stunning as usual and the rhythm section of Ian Hill and Scott Travis are as tight as ever. I would remiss if I didn’t give the guys credit for another badass album cover. Behold the Titanicus!!
I won’t get into the argument of where FIREPOWER sits among the rest of the Priest catalog, your mileage may vary, but I believe this is one of the best records they have made in a very long time. We are living in a time where few people care about classic bands writing, recording, and releasing new music and that is a shame. This album demands to be heard. Spread the word and believe the hype. Judas Priest have released a classic album in 2018.
Written by Sam Supey. Follow him on Twitter @SamSupey